Most learning institutions usually focus on teaching their students hard skills such as reading, writing, mathematics and use of computer. Some do focus on developing the soft skills or people skills, such as creativity, critical thinking, cooperation or team work and empathy or the ability to share and understand the feelings of others.
This is what makes Childlink Learning Center and Childlink High School Inc. one of the schools that goes beyond teaching hard skills and has encouraged their students to develop soft skills, including empathy. The school has been promoting advocacies involving their students so they would learn about social issues existing in the community.
For March, which is the Women’s Month, Childlink will launch the “Ending Child Marriage” campaign.
The Philippines is the 12th country with a high incidence of child marriage, said Childlink founder and school directress Maria Theresa Tio.
Child Marriage diminishes the opportunity for young girls to be properly educated
The United Nations Population Fund, in a policy brief released on January last year, found that one out of 6 Filipina girls gets married before they are 18 years old. This meant that 16.5 percent of young women aged 20-24 married before they became 18. This occurs although the Philippine Family Code sets the marriageable age at 18 years old.
“Many don’t know that there are child marriages in the Philippines. Our students thought that child marriages only happen due to early and unplanned pregnancies. But there are different reasons such as poverty or arranged marriage, which is practiced in some parts of our country,” Ms. Tio said.
She noted that there’s a need for students to know what causes child marriage and its impact on society.
An analysis from the Commission on Population and Development (POPCOM) of Region XII shows that child marriage is both a result and a cause of the perpetuation of a cycle of gendered poverty.
A Webinar on Early Marriage raises the awareness of the students about this global issue
To create awareness, the school asked high school students to join a webinar “Girls Not Brides” initiated by Zonta Club of Cebu 2. This was then followed by another webinar organized by the school that featured a discussion on child marriage conducted by Atty. Noemi Truya Abarientos from the Children’s Legal Bureau. The students were then assigned to come up with an infographic posters on child marriage.
A Grade 10 student, in her essay, wrote the following words:
“Brides may be girls, but girls are not just brides. They are doctors, lawyers, teachers, engineers, designers, soldiers, students, and trailblazers. How could you ever expect girls to build their life up to only one role? Marriage is a choice not culture. A girl’s childhood is not a preparation to be a mother and wife, instead it is for education to be the person she dreams to be.”
As a School of Character, Childlink has been creating awareness among its students of the social concerns existing outside the safe bubble of their homes and the school. These include environment protection, cyber bullying, teenage pregnancies and anti-violence against children.
The school also spearheaded community outreach programs involving the students, such as reading programs, coastal cleanups, and anti-teenage pregnancy campaign, among others.
“I believe exposing children as early as this age to doing community outreach makes them realize there’s really purpose for them,” Ms. Tio pointed out.
She added that the school wanted to encourage students to realize that whatever course or career they will choose in the future, there’s something they can contribute to the community.
“For everything that you learn, there is something we can do for the betterment of others,” Ms. Tio stressed.
Childlink will feature a video on child marriage on its website soon. http://childlink.edu.ph/.
“Usually, when we make videos (for our advocacies), we ask students for concepts which is made as basis for the videos. We ask them to share the videos as much as they can. We are tapping other agencies in our community to help us propagate the message,” Ms Tio said.
The goal is to let people be aware that these things are present in our community, she said.
By doing these community advocacies, Childlink is fulfilling its role as a “School of Character” in developing caring and responsible individuals of the community.
An awareness program on Child Marriage is done by the Z Club of Childlink through infographic posters